Karzai rejects elders’ advice to back U.S. deal quickly in Afghanistan.
BY SUNITA KUREISHI AND BIODUN IGINLA, BBC NEWS
KABUL Sun Nov 24, 2013 3:31pm EST
1 OF 10. Afghan President Hamid Karzai speaks during the last day of the Loya Jirga, in Kabul November 24, 2013.
CREDIT: REUTERS/OMAR SOBHANI
An assembly of Afghan elders endorsed a crucial security deal on Sunday to enable U.S. troops to operate in the country beyond next year, but President Hamid Karzai left the matter up in the air by refusing to say whether he would sign it into law.
The gathering, known as the Loya Jirga, had been convened by the president to debate the pact outlines the legal terms of continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. It voted in favour and advised Karzai sign it promptly.
But Karzai, in his final remarks to the four-day meeting, said he would not sign it until after a presidential election due next April.
“If there is no peace, then this agreement will bring misfortune to Afghanistan,” he said. “Peace is our precondition. America should bring us peace and then we will sign it.”
The president did not elaborate, but has previously said a free and fair vote is needed to guarantee peace in the country and his spokesman later said Karzai had not changed his mind.